Why do children push boundaries?

Tree climbing

Everyone has experienced children testing their boundaries, physically and socially. Two-year-olds (and teens!) particularly feel this need to press the limits. Such behaviour may be exasperating for adults, but it’s universal. It must serve an important purpose.

A child’s first boundaries are mother’s arms, providing warmth and protection. So if boundaries represent safety, why push against them? Perhaps it’s that human urge for adventure, the curiosity to discover what’s around the corner or to explore that next hilltop… But I’ve come to believe that it’s also a child’s way of ensuring that the boundaries are still firmly in place – giving the security needed to relax and to play.

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